Marine Reserves

A marine reserve is a natural protected area where some or all human-use activities are banned. Not only do they have a positive effect on the fish and invertebrate populations that inhabit nearby areas, reserves also bring economic benefits to coastal communities. Marine reserves are also known as restoration areas, since adults and larvae protected by the reserve can “spillover” to areas without protection. This helps maintain and restore viable populations of harvested species outside protected areas, thus enhancing local fisheries.

We have an arrangement of permanent underwater monitoring sites inside marine reserves, including Cabo Pulmo, Espiritu Santo, Loreto and Bahía de Los Angeles. We are investigating the long-term effectiveness of marine reserves in the Gulf of California by following changes in diversity, biomass, and abundance in reef fishes and invertebrates obtained during our annual monitoring surveys. Permanent monitoring sites outside nearby marine reserves are also being studied in order to tease out changes due to environmental conditions and climate change from those due to human impacts.

In the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado Delta Biosphere Reserve, we are working with fishers and local stakeholders to characterize seasonal and annual fisheries trends, gather biological data of target species, assess the status of key fisheries, evaluate spatio-temporal interactions between fishing activities and fish spawning aggregations, and examine the success of the reserve in protecting endangered species and creating sustainable fisheries for coastal communities.

Associated links:

  • Research Priority Sites
  • Network of Marine Reserves


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